New book episode — no blog for a while — and happy holidays to all!

I'm about to go off for the holidays, which means no blog for a while. Or more specifically, no blog till the second week in January. I'm going to be visiting family, and then taking a long, leisurely drive home. Maybe I won't even pick up e-mail during the drive. The very thought is liberating. So this also means I won't approve comments until I'm back. It sounds so geeky, so controlling -- I have to approve every comment everybody posts, before they show up on the site. And why? So we won't have to look at the spam comments that arrive in … [Read more...]

The intellectual audience

Reviews and other accounts of classical music events from the past -- I mean written in the past -- don't talk much about the audience. And why should they? Everybody reading them would know what the audience was like, so there wouldn't be much need to comment on it. That's why a famous Virgil Thomson piece from 1950 is so interesting to read now. He's describing one part of the classical music audience back then, and -- at least if you ask me -- he might as well be talking about 19th century Shanghai. Now I don't see anything like what he … [Read more...]

More age data

As regular readers of this blog know, I've been posting a lot about the age of the classical music audience. The current myth is that this audience has always been as old as it is now, but all the data I've found says the opposite -- the classical audience has been getting older at least since 1937, when the earliest data I've found was collected. See my post on audience age for more details. And now -- thanks to a tip from a marketing director I know -- I've found more data, giving even more support from my view. It's in a very good book on … [Read more...]

Past popularity

We all know (or we ought to know) that classical music used to be more popular in the United States than it is now. But how can we measure that? Well, in the 1950s the big TV networks showed spectacular classical telecast. That's one piece of evidence. Clearly, classical music must have been more popular then, or else the networks wouldn't have bothered with it. But this isn't statistical data. It doesn't measure the popularity of classical music, and give us a number that we can compare with anything now. With this in mind, I was fascinated … [Read more...]

Laura and the Koreans

(Another of my occasional posts about classical music publicity and promotion. It's so often done badly, with flyers, posters, and press releases that don't say a thing. How can we do it better?) I don't know Laura Seay. But I admire her a lot. She's a viola student at Juilliard, and gave a recital a month or so ago, joined by three other musicians, all Korean or Korean-American. (Not hard to do at Juilliard, with its heavy Asian enrollment.) And so she put up flyers for the concert, advertising the show as "Laura and the Koreans." As if they … [Read more...]

Important news stories (3)

Rock of Ages by Jeff Leeds New York Times, November 26, 2006 The AARP is going into the music business. As this news story says, the AARP is sponsoring Tony Bennett's current tour. And not only that: Elton John performed at the association's "Life @50+" convention in Anaheim, Calif., last month; officials said they have booked Rod Stewart and Earth, Wind & Fire for next year. James Taylor played two years ago, and the group's magazine has named him as one of the hottest people over 50... [The group is also] bulking up its Web site … [Read more...]

License to think

I've often cited Stephen Johnson's book, Everything Bad is Good for You, an ironic title, since the book talks about how smart pop culture has gotten. And there couldn't be a better example of his thesis than the new James Bond movie, Casino Royale. I won't pretend to know how its producers planned it, but I can imagine them thinking something like this: "The James Bond franchise is old and stupid. People feel affectionate toward it, but they know how silly the movies are. Times have changed; people now expect more. What can we do to bring … [Read more...]

Great job!

I've complained often enough about classical music publicity and press releases. So it's wonderful to see someone doing it right. Though as it happens, this isn't a press release, but instead a newspaper item about an upcoming concert, printed today in the Times-Herald Record, the really fine local paper for New York's Mid-Hudson region: Beethoven and the yaks There may be no greater musical treat this season than what's happening at Bard College today. The college's Conservatory Chamber Orchestra will present a free program in the Frank … [Read more...]

Help us through the minefield

Thought for today, from the New York Times business section: Y&R, a very traditional ad agency that recently has lost major clients and also staff, has appointed a new chief executive. He's interviewed in the Times, and here's the first question he was asked, along with the start of his answer. Q. How can an agency like Y&R, known for its traditional approach to advertising, thrive when the marketing landscape is changing so much? A. There is an awful lot of confusion out there. No one knows what will really happen. It's all up … [Read more...]

Noisy episode

Loonacied! Marterdyed!! Madwakemiherculossed!!! Judascessed!!!! Pairaskivvymenassed!!!!! Luredogged!!!!!! There, from Finnegans Wake, is the motto of my latest book episode, the latest improvised installment of my online book on the future of classical music. If this episode were positioned in the style of a computer folder, it might be book/how classical music is today/how classical music got that way/the effects of modernism. As faithful readers know, I'm not happy with the effects modernist music has had on classical music, even though I … [Read more...]

Important news stories (2)

Cities Compete in Hipness Battle to Attract Young New York Times, November 25, 2006 "Baby boomers are retiring and the number of young adults is declining. By 2012, the work force will be losing more than two workers for every one it gains." So cities are trying to attract people 35 and under. "They are people who, demographers say, are likely to choose a location before finding a job. They like downtown living, public transportation and plenty of entertainment options. They view diversity and tolerance as marks of … [Read more...]

Important news stories (1)

800 Very Unsquare Feet New York Times, November 30 What this story says: In Malibu, there's a store called Free City Supershop, run by a fashion professional named Nina Garduno. "Is it a camping store?" the story asks (and it's a very vivid, focused story, I might add, written by Cathy Horyn). "Ms. Garduno sells customized teepees, with one on display near the entrance." "Is it a bike shop? She sells vintage and new bicycles, each one refitted and custom-painted so that no two are alike. "Is it a clothing store? Ms. Garduno sells … [Read more...]